Faraday Future has revealed its first concept car, the FFZERO1, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Though not destined for production, the FFZERO1 instead provides a close look at the interior and exterior design language chosen for Faraday Future’s upcoming line of production vehicles, which are scheduled to appear within “a couple of years”.
The single-seat all-electric racer concept sits on a bespoke, modular electric platform, dubbed the Variable Platform Architecture (VPA). All of Faraday Future’s future vehicles will use the VPA platform, which the company claims can be rapidly reconfigured to suit different vehicle types.
As well as being engineered to adopt both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations, the platform is also capable of housing up to three electric motors. Batteries are added to the platform in ‘strings’, again helping adaptability.
The FFZERO1 features four ‘quad core’ motors as part of its electric powertrain, producing a combined 1000bhp and allowing it to reach 60mph in less than three seconds. Top speed is said to be over 200mph.
The car’s single-seat cockpit design features a driver’s seat angled at 45deg to improve comfort and a new head restraining system built into the seat. Oxygen and water tubes can also be connected to the driver’s helmet from ports in the seat.
Augmented reality displays can be projected onto the concept’s windscreen, while a mobile phone mounting on the steering wheel is used to control some driving functions. Faraday Future’s cars will also come pre-equipped with the sensors needed to carry out autonomous driving functions.
The car's exterior bodywork is made from a mixture of carbonfibre and composites. Its styling and 'air tunnel' design is designed to channel cooling air to the battery packs, while the rear fin can be used as a 'digital canvas' to display the driver's name and race position.
Speaking on the eve of CES, Nick Sampson, Faraday Future’s head of R&D and engineering, said the company had been working “night and day" to create a new vision of mobility.
“We all share a common goal to profoundly move the world in better, cleaner and more intelligent ways,” Sampson said. “We have a very transformative vision. We are embarking on nothing less than a complete rethink on what mobility means.
“You don’t need to have a 100-year legacy in the automotive industry to define what the next generation of mobility needs to look and feel like.”
Sampson said Faraday Future would attempt to move faster than traditional car makers by shaping itself more as a technology company than as a car manufacturer. He also praised Tesla – viewed as the firm’s chief rival - for bringing ‘start-up thinking’ to the automotive industry.
Design chief Richard Kim said the FFZERO1 concept was “an extreme test bed for the fundamental ideas we are working on for upcoming vehicles”. Kim was poached from BMW’s i brand, where his credits include the i3 and i8 road cars and the i8 Spyder concept.
Although Faraday Future is yet to confirm what its business model will be, the company has given strong hints that it will move away from traditional vehicle ownership.
It’s understood that Faraday Future’s customers will be able to sign up and lease different cars from the company depending on their needs. “Perhaps having a city car to get to work, but the platform knows that every weekend you need a larger vehicle for the family,” said Kim.
“Uber is great. It’s not so unlike Airbnb and other services where you can have it when you want it, but not when you don’t.”
Speaking to Bloomberg late last year, Sampson said Faraday Future “will launch a single model and follow with a range of vehicles in a faster way than others have achieved. We’re looking at seven different vehicles.”
Part of Faraday Future’s revenue stream will also come from infotainment services, Sampson said. “Our business model is not based around moving a car out of the dealer. We envision this like a smart phone. The revenue starts once you get the device in the owner's hands. We’re looking at subscriptions and apps and other opportunities.”
It’s no surprise to see Faraday Future choose CES for its official launch. The company has elected to build its first vehicle factory in north Las Vegas. The new site, which will create 4500 jobs and is part of a $1 billion investment plan, will house design studios and workshops as well as the tooling needed for building cars.
Faraday Future is currently based in Los Angeles, where it employs a team of over 750 people. The company has made no bones about poaching the best automotive and technology talent from its rivals – its leadership team includes Dag Reckhorn, Alan Cherry and Tom Wessner, all of whom have previously held senior positions at Tesla, as has Sampson.
Q&A with Richard Kim, lead designer at Faraday Future
What inspired the creation of the FFZERO1 concept?
The concept is first and foremost a celebration of our VPA platform. We took a lot of our design DNA and used this as a test bed for what our legacy will be in the future. We’re building our own heritage as we go. This is an extreme version of that, and the result is something as emotional and dynamic as this.
Why does the FFZERO1 take the form of a race car?
Everything in racing is tested there and implemented in production, so that’s a nice fact for us. That project was born from a sketch on a napkin. We were working on our production car and one of our designers made a doodle of a race car, and then Nick Sampson said our platform could support such a vehicle.
What ownership model will Faraday Future be looking at?
I think some people will want to just buy our first car and own it, but I think the notion of ownership is changing and the rise of music streaming is a great example of that. From a design standpoint that’s interesting and a challenge, to design a car that someone may not own. You may design that product in a very different way.
Will your first production model be an SUV?
I don’t want to call it an SUV, I don’t want to put that car into a category right now. Maybe the public will define their own category for it, but it’s going to be a unique statement. We could launch cars very quickly after the first model, but for now we’re concentrating on finishing the first model. The design for that is already done and has been done for a while, and now we’re designing our second car.